As the news of the unemployment rate in the United States is at 3.9%, a rare low, my first thought was “What a great opportunity to change jobs.” I know this seems a bit counterintuitive to what one might think with a low unemployment number. The standard thinking is that with low unemployment you have a job, a good thing, and you don’t have to worry about finding another job, a great thing.
But is there another way to think about low unemployment?
You can choose the firm you want
Each of us has an idea of the perfect work environment. Is there an aesthetic a firm has cultivated that you love? What about a firm that has a passionate commitment to sustainability? Perhaps there is a firm closer to your home, shortening your commute? Better yet, maybe there is a firm that allows employees to work from home part of the week? As great as your current job might be, there is always something that could improve your work situation.
With employment at a record low, firms are struggling to find talent. This is a great time to “window shop” firms. Check out firms that you admire and firms you have never heard of to learn about their employee value proposition. If you find a firm that you find interesting, reach out and start a conversation.
You can negotiate the pay you want
Yes, we are going to talk about money. Frankly and openly. Money is not the only defining aspect of you career, at least it should not be. With that said, money is important. Not only does it support your life and the standard at which you can live, money is an agreement between you and your firm. It is the measure of your position in the firm and given to you for you doing the best you can, even better for the firm.
But money moves slowly. Many times, the right pay for your first day or first job does not keep up with your progression in your position and your firm. A market with historically low unemployment is the perfect time to align work and pay, either at your current firm or a new one.
You can choose the job you want
This is the true benefit of changing jobs in a market with low unemployment. Firms are open to pivot candidates. What does this mean? It means that firms are more open to bringing on a culture fit candidate who may need to ramp into a new project type or position level.
This is the golden ticket for career advancement and movement. If there is a new level of responsibility you feel you are ready for, explore it with another firm. If you have a passion for another project vertical, connect with a firm that does that type of work.
The bottom line is that you have a job. You already have a job so what do you have to lose? You know what you want in your career so be open to making a change to get what you want AND be able to read the tea leaves on timing.
The tea leaves are telling us all that now is the time.